This October, SFUSD is celebrating Filipino American History Month, a month to celebrate the contributions of Filipinx Americans to the American political, economic, and cultural landscape. At SFUSD, our schools have offered lessons and other activities to honor Filipino history and culture. At James Denman Middle School, there is a Filipinx Club for students to gather together and learn more about and celebrate Filipino culture. During distance learning last year, members were given ingredients to cook together on Zoom and made dishes like ube (purple yam) Rice Krispies and chicken adobo. As school is back in-person, they’ve gone back to weekly lunchtime meetings and will continue cooking at home together after school once a month.
This year’s theme from the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is “50 Years Since the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention.” The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention, a meeting that took place at Seattle University in 1971 and brought over 300 young Filipino American participants from the West Coast of the US. The convention is hailed as the beginning of the Filipino American Movement. The Filipino Farwest Conventions were an organizing space for community and youth activists that helped bring issues like Filipino Farmworkers rights and anti-martial law to the forefront of the Filipino American Movement.
SFUSD celebrates the Filipinx community all year round through Kababayan SFUSD, an organization of SFUSD Filipinx employees who organize community events and help support the success and well-being of Filipinx students. In May, they held their third annual districtwide graduation ceremony virtually for Filipinx seniors and families. They also partner closely with the Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Francisco.
Additionally, SFUSD has offered the Filipino Student Wellness Internship. It is a partnership with SFUSD’s Office of College and Career Readiness (CCR) and the Filipinx Club at James Denman Middle School that provides Filipinx/Filipinx American identified high school and middle school students opportunities to learn about mental health and wellness within the context of their ethnic and socio-cultural experiences. In an effort to address the high suicide ideation rates amongst Filipinx students, particularly in middle schoolers, and stigma associated with talking about mental health challenges within Filipinx families, the Filipinx Student Wellness Internship aims to strengthen communication skills, foster self-empathy, and cultivate agency amongst young people as they navigate their relationship to mental wellness. The Filipinx Student Wellness curriculum was co-developed by FMHI-SF's Program Coordinator Verma Zapanta, M.Ed, and SFUSD School Social Worker Harvey Lozada, MSW.
We’ve put together a resource guide with content to learn more about Filipinx American history and ways to engage with the local Filipinx community.
Note: The adoption of the “x” in “Filipinx” by members in the Filipino American community is an attempt at inclusivity and breaking past the binary of gendered markers imposed by colonization. Filipinx should be seen as synonymous with Filipina or Filipino, without the gendered prescription.